The second quarter of the year continued to show positive gains in our measurements of the different factors encouraging electric vehicle adoption and ownership. All of the indices calculated for the ‘Big 5’ European Markets and Norway showed growth.
EV registrations reflected this positive mood, with the number of pure battery electric vehicles sold in Europe almost double compared to the same period of 2020, accounting for 7.5% of all new car purchases. In June, Tesla’s Model 3 rose to second place in the monthly league table of European vehicle sales with only the Volkswagen Golf ahead of it.
However, whilst our index for each market shows better affordability and improvements in the choice of EVs available, consumer interest still lags behind, with the majority of in-market car buyers excluding EVs from their consideration list.
Of the Big 5, Germany remains marginally ahead in our Index ranking, with rapidly developing levels of consumer interest measured through online interest and purchase outcomes. Charging infrastructure however continues to be a challenge, partly due the country’s size but also the distribution of the population outside of densely populated areas.
The UK was in second place with slightly lower levels of interest in EVs and with less choice and price comparability of the EV models available. However, the country remains relatively well served in terms of charge points.
France, in third place, has been hit by a surge in Covid-19 infections, and both the economy and the car market remain depressed. Whilst Battery Electric Vehicle sales accounted for 10% market share in June, the ending of low-emission purchase incentives introduced the year before appears to have dented consumer enthusiasm.
The continuing low scores of Italy and Spain raise the concern of a developing two-tier path to EV adoption and an apparent North-South divide.
Two factors appear to be at work here. Firstly, whilst electric vehicle pricing across Europe is largely consistent — it has to be under EU Single Market rules — the variations in GDP per head make the choice of an EV more daunting in those two markets. Secondly, as the Index shows, those two markets are also very poorly served in terms of the availability of charge points. This further feeds the negative perception of the practicality of EV ownership amongst consumers, which consequently depresses the measured levels of interest in acquiring one.
Whilst the infrastructure score is currently one of the strongest pillars of the EV Index in many of the other markets that we monitor, there should be no room for complacency. A recent audit by the European Commission has shown that the rate of expansion of the European charger network still lags behind what is required to meet the objectives for EV adoption.
With the July publication of the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ package, that task has become even more challenging, with a ban on all ICE vehicle sales coming into effect from 2035.
Norway remains the poster-girl of how a country can transition to electric cars. Its overall Index score above 100 shows it has moved beyond the point of parity between ICE and EV: that is, market conditions positively favour EV acquisition and ownership compared to purchasing and running an internal combustion engine powered car.
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